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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

"We interrupt this program..."

I heard a rumor that the blog police are on a witch hunt.  They're gathering up slacker bloggers, and it won't be pretty--bonfires, guillotines--parts will sizzle; heads will roll.  Beware.  I, for one, will not be caught with my guard down.  I'm cranking it back!  I've been in this position before.  I take a long break.  It becomes easier every day to ignore that little voice--Madd, Madd...this is your blog.  Where are you?  What about me?  I don't think I am unique.  Most bloggers have retired.  Perhaps some other  fancy social medium calls them away.  I'm not cool enough to even know what those mediums might be, so I button up my high top boots and carry on--a victim of my own best intentions gone awry.  No penalties if you stop really.  I just plain wonder what happened to the bloggers I used to follow.  What about that gal in NYC who had the handicapped child in an institution that she used to visit all the time?  Her marriage bit the dust, and then the blog stopped.  Or what about that gal with the 6 kids?  She sloughed off her husband as well and moved to Texas.  From there it was a quick trip to complete silence.  I think she was even an award winner!!  Who said that a husband was a prerequisite for writing a blog?  And Miss?  Baby # 3 sucked her right out of cyberspace.  That pediatrician who was such a dynamite writer???  My daughters???  My sons???  One by one.  Gone.

Actually the truth is that I'm writing this for my drooling days--when I sit around and knit and fixate on days gone by when I could still put a noun or two with a snappy verb and make coherent thoughts.  Those days will end, and I'll have my published blogposts to remind me of this and that.

So it's a new year.  Paco and I are still in China.  We teach first year PhD students at Peking University--China's Harvard.  That ALONE should make me giddy to blog.  Plenty of material.  For instance:

Topics Covered in Oral English Classes on American Culture
student life
national parks
Amish (yes, they are VERY interested in Amish!)
child raising
Impressions of China

We go deep.  For a whole week we talked about Life's Greatest Questions--where did we come from, does God exist (light on that or I get in trouble), is there life on other planets?  In return, they talk to me all about China, their homes, their fields of study (philosophy, geology, biology, chemistry, environmental science, Maoism, botany, folk medicine, ecology and some hybrid studies like high energy theoretical physics or even biochemistry.  And so it goes.  Sometimes we close the door and discuss dating, sex, and marriage. They love that.  I've conditioned them.  When I start walking for the door they move forward in their chairs and are all ears.

The students are charming.

I hope I've done due diligence to the witch hunters and at least bought myself a little more time.

On the Road Again--Revisiting the Silk Road

Fares in a muslem bazaar in Urumqi.

Turpin.  Jiahoe Ancient City

Here's an interesting mix of castle designer, cookbook writer, West Indies humanitarian missionaries, and fruit farmers!  We're all equally overwhelmed and awed by finding ourselves in China.  What the ???

The faces tell the story.


A couple of old geezers just traipsing around.

Stopping off at a private vineyard.

One of my readers (with whom I also share a gene pool) complained that my blog is fixated on mops, brooms, kids, and camels.  I'm thinking of focusing on snouts for awhile.  Here's at least one.

The kindest eyes!

School's out!

No seatbelts, and that driver looks what?  Ten?

We were on the tour bus when we passed this semi full of sheepskins being unloaded.   Simultaneously we yelled, "STOP THE BUS!!!" and were given a 10 minute photo break,

or we would have missed this!!

Mogao Grottos.  Pictures were prohibited, so I pirated from google.

These little sisters were jumping around down below us trying to get out attention.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Step Aside, Superman!

This is the Shanghai Magnetic Levitation (Maglev to his friends) Train which we took from Pudong Airport to the station near our hotel.  In a little over seven minutes we reached the world record (until last week in Japan!) speed of 431 km/h which is right around 268 mph.  We flew!!!!!!!!!!!  Actually we reached capacity speed in 2 minutes and didn't get to fly too long before we needed to decelerate.   Those tricky Japanese got theirs up to 676 km/h.  How did it feel, Mad, you ask?  Blurry and a titch nausating.   Rumor has it that it won't be long until Maglev takes on the 800 mile trip to Beijing.  That presents all manner of engineering challenges, but at least it would alleviate the crying babies, loud-talking Chinese mothers, snoring seatmates, and nervous leg NONSTOP ANNOYANCES which we endured coming home on a regular fancy dancy old bullet train from Shanghai for a little under five hours, thank you.  I'm going to catch this blog up tomorrow.  Come back.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Shanghai Getaway

Sometimes your planets align.  You find yourself in magical places heretofore only imagined.  Shanghai is such a place for me.

Saturday morning in a Buddhist temple--chubby cheeks aplenty!!  Little did we know that in a kingdom far far away called Maryland, 

this little dumpling touting her own award-winning cheeks had landed!!!  Welcome, Caroline Rae Myers!  You make an even dozen!!

And you'll have an instant wardrobe FOREVER!!

 This amazing crew was polishing this large jade rock inside the  grounds of Jing an Temple.  Who knows how long countless people have worked to make this indentation--all the while bringing glorious luck to loved ones!  

 El travelino compadres--Kathy and John

 Somewhere in the temple fun, Paco's phone got heisted from his unzipped cargo pants pocket.  We should have rubbed the rock harder!!  I think he probably stood out in his Don Ho shirt.

 The Qi (stay tuned for an entire post devoted to Qi!!! -- pronounced chee) of this Dunkin' Donuts is in balance as evidenced by the group practicing outside and the donuts extraordinaire on the inside!!!!  

 John is going to be so ticked when he finds me on the other side of his picture taking a mirror image shot with him in it!

Some Chinese children are show-stopping gorgeous.

Star-crossed lovers--their tale needs to be told... 

 True story!!!  I was taking a picture of this broom lying next to the monk.  He enthusiastically hopped up and animated this broom!

Very cool minion remote control toys

Every Sunday (while you and I have been sitting in Sunday school) for who knows how long,  Chinese parents have been anxiously engaged in People's Square "selling" their sons and daughters into matrimony.

All the important specs are spelled out complete with height, date of birth, educational prowess, and the all important phone number.

  Hundreds and hundreds of expectant umbrellas--each touting the availability of marriageable Chinese young men and women--none of whom are in sight.  Sleeping?  Hiding behind the trees?  Unaware that Mom is up to this?  Perhaps in the temple rubbing that rock for their own good matrimonial luck?

This mother broom has a spinster daughter she's been trying to match for about 5 years.  Daughter says, "No need, Ma, really!"  But every Sunday morning, mother is out parked on the curb...devoted and stubborn.

Feeding the birds

I had such a haircut once too.  My older sister put Jergens lotion on it to make it shine.  Really.

 In passing... I almost didn't look sideways and would have missed them.  Close one...

We bought tickets on a hop on/hop off tour bus which was great great fun and allowed us to sit on the open-air top deck of a bus and enjoy the perfect temperature of Shanghai as well as the sights and sounds of this glorious city.  Here we are in the middle of a massive migration through a street fair--serendipitously so wonderful!!

Favorite books

  • Me 'n Steve
  • Thundering Sneakers
  • James Herriott's vet books
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Travels with Charley
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • Peace Like a River
  • The Egg and I
  • Mary Poppins
  • Extremly Loud Incredibly Close
  • How Green Was my Valley